Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Can Religion EVER Bring Justice?

Religion because of its absolute claims on "truth" cannot bring about justice, as religion must discriminate. Religion, by definition, is organized by creeds, religious government, convictions and "prejuidiced" by whatever is considered to be "the truth", or the forming or framing of "truth"! The religious are not taught to be "critical" but, "believing", "trusting", submissive. Those that are leading such religious organizations are prone to err toward their prejuidiced viewpoint. Their values will rule their organization, and this is their right in a free society. America allows for such religious intolerance. So, religion can never be just, in a universal sense. Religion is prejudiced and those that are under its influence will also be prejuidiced.

But, is American government a universal? Yes, because it values individual conscience, in regards to religious conviction and it gives all the right to trial by jury and believes in the innocence of the accused until proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The symbol for justice is a blind-folded woman holding scales, symbolizing the equality before the law, without regard to race, creed or gender. All have the right to petition the government for re-dress from grievances. I value these "rights", as all Americans should.

The religious think that theirs is a "higher law" and a "higher call" than basic "secular justice". This gives them the "right" to do what they want according to their particular conscience. All are not created equal in their view. Justice is only for those who serve their particular values, views, belief s, opinions, political goals, etc. Religion is discriminatory. But, if I am honest, we all are discriminatory, as without discrimination we will hold no beliefs or values at all. So, let the culture wars continue. They are only healthy symbol that our society is still free!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jazz Correlates to American "Faith"

Jazz in its free expression, is also how Americans  and the Founders have viewed  "faith". We believe in liberty of conscience, and value diverse interests. We won't be defined by a "one size fits all" faith. Faith remains undefined according to the First Amendment. Government is not to define "faith", or interfere with "faith". Liberty of conscience defines "faith". And that is, "free association" of value, in individual choice.

America is basically a Protestant nation, so we aren't defined by Roman Catholicism, nor are we to be defined by fundmentalism, because Americans basically are independent from authoritarian understandings in regards to faith. But, the fundamentalists, or those that think "faith" has lost its value, have begun to try to re-define our liberty of conscience along their lines of  their particular understanding. This is nothing less than limiting another in their understanding and value, in regards to "faith" and its claims.Therefore, we have the "culture war" we have today, in regards to "faith" and American government. We must not define another's faith, unless we want to promote a militaristic "faith" that terrorizes others that might have different convictions.

Jazz, an/as/and the American Ideal

 Jazz is original American music "type" that origninated in African American communities. The origin of the word jazz is one of the most sought-after word origins in modern American English.[citation needed;WiKi, Febuary 2010] The word's intrinsic interest—the American Dialect Society named it the Word of the Twentieth Century—has resulted in considerable research, and its history is well-documented (WiKi,). I believe that Jazz is loved because it represents in musical form, American ideals.

Americans love the ideals of individual liberty, and, love their country because of it! Jazz has a unity in diversity musical form. Various instruments are allowed  expression, sometimes in solo performances. This is how American society "works". We are free-forms and free thinkers. We are creative spirits that have experienced liberty in our form of government and expressed that liberty in pursuing our dreams that  have resulted in various technological inventions, as well as artistic expressions. Americans love the free market, because it allows the individual the right to pursue material gain. American love to be independent.  Baroque music would be jazz's "opposite.

I believe that the human spirit is made for and desires freedom, altho some may fear it. When the slaves came to America and were sold and worked, they created a means of expressing themselves in this art form. Their human spirit sought a "way out" of their dire circumstances. While they waited for "salvation", they made music.

Jazz was initially viewed as a "low class" or "anti-class" type of music that represented "whore houses", and sexual promiscuity. But, jazz soon became accepted by mainstream society.

Jazz has no defined definition, as Jazz is as diverse in musical style, as it is diverse in muscial expression.

I like jazz.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aayan Hirshi Ali and Her Free Thought

I listened to Aayan Hirshi Ali this morning as she accepted an award from the "Freedom From Religion Foundation". She wrote "Infidel", which I read several years ago. She has been a source of inspiration in her fortitude and resistance to religious zeal and her desire to seek rationality instead of religious belonging.

Her speech used "The Emperor With No Clothes" and she talked about how those that want to "belong" at all costs will suppress their questions and unify their opinions because they fear being an "outcast" or "outsider" to the "faith".

This is correct, as humans are prone to decieve themselves and others in their attempt to provide and protect their "community". It  becomes an all out "war" of sorts because one's very identity is caught by such thinking and being in the world. Aayan embraced the questions because she valued honestly above myth. Such questioning  is doubly threatened because it puts one's personal values in question, especially if financial and family investments have a stake in such interests.

Ms. Ali escaped Islam's grasp over her life by fleeing Somalia, becomeing educated in the Netherlands, and finding a "voice in America".

Is she duped by her "reason"? Is she sabatoging another's right to "believe"? What she suggests is that rationality is to be held as a guard against religious fundamentalism, and zeal. It protects from psychological abuse that hinders one from becoming and being in the world as a free moral agent.The individual is to be set free from such "communal understandings". Belonging should be about things that do not depend on irrationality, which leaders have power to enforce at the costs of another's rational conviction and/or commitment.

America is great because it allows for freedom of religion, but doesn't demand religion as a test for public service. Character, which is of uptmost importance in public office is not dependent on one's religious affliation. In fact, religious people, as well as the irreligious, justify what they do by "rational argument". There is no justification to defrauding or manipulating because of a 'higher law" or standard, whether that standard be a religious or secular standard.  America believes that all "belong", as citizens and it is the citizen's right to be treated as equal before the law. And it is called our Constitutional right.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peace and Its Process

During this Christmas season, a lot of songs are sung about "peace on earth" and "goodwill to men". These are nice images that don't parallel to the real world of politics. Peace is not experienced in many parts of the world. And the clashes are over ideology, power, material gain, and sometimes even one's very identity.

People who try to work for peace find it difficult, gruelling and sometimes, unrewarding, unlike the "merry Christmas songs" that promise romanticized fantasies.

People that have their feet grounded and understand that politics is dirty business will also understand that the lesson to be learned is sometimes to move on. One cannot force "peace", as co-ercion is an oximoronic term to peace. Sometimes, America has been accused of working in this way by miltary force. But, how else are we to "make peace" when otherwise, there will be bloodshed?

Nuclear weapons are supposed to be limited by treaties, but we also know that treaties are only as good as the people who "shake on it". The leaders of each country must be people that will uphold their agreements, and protect the treaties boundaries. Oftentimes, treaties are breached for one reason or another. And many times it is the differences in our value systems.

Humans have various needs, individually, and corporately. And it becomes a complex endeavor, indeed, to try to understand how to unravel the strings, so people will live in/with understanding. I do not have hope that there will ever be a day where peace will rule the earth, alto this is what we sing about at Christmastime.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Choice, Conviction, and Commitment

What makes humans different from other animals? Both conservative and liberals will agree that choice is a value to/for humans. Animals do not make choices, do they? They are herded, trained, modified, by humans (the more intelligent animal) or act instinctively for survival.

Although humans do act to survive, we can use our reason, and our choice to control ourselves as to the means of meeting the need to survive and flourish. We do not have to kill another human because we need to survive. Self-control is what civilizes man. It is his conviction about another's right to existence that limits his "right to life" at all costs. So, besides choice, there are convictions that are important values to society or civilization.

Convictions are about cultural reference points. American culture is defined by the Constitution. Fortunately, in the West we value the individual and uphold his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our commitment to such values cause us to value another's right to liberty, as well. Liberty of conscience is an important value for the Founders, as it protected diverse convictions.

Today on a news program, it was argued that a Supreme Court Justice should believe in "rights" as given by a Creator, so that the Constitution is interpreted as an "originalist". But a Supreme Court Judge argued that one should not have these "religious qualifications/tests for a Supreme Court Justice, or for any office, for that matter. I agree with her, because a justice should be blind to any personal opinion or prejuidice in regards to the Constitution and the case brought before the Court. If a justice was too ideological, whether conservative or liberal, then it might inhibit justice because it would limit the judge's ability to hear without prejuidice or bias concerning the issue or the person involved. All citizens, no matter if they believe in a Creator or not, are to be given the right to Representation before the law!

Americans value the right to dissent and resist a government that does not respect liberty. And liberty is  about differences of value in choice, conviction and commitment.

Moral Busybodies, Again!

C.S. Lewis on Moral Busybodies

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Choice and Homosexuality

Today's discussion on the radio concerned homosexuality and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The basic rationale presented was that homosexuality was not appropriate behavior, because the majority does not think it is.

While the military has its "discipline" to consider, I agree that "anything goes" is inappropriate for military behavior! I respect those that serve in our military because of their commitment to the American value of liberty. But, because our country values liberty; how do we fairly evaluate  homosexuality? And what does homosexuality have to do with discipline, choice, or commitment, or how do these values influence how we understand homosexuality?

The argument that homosexuality has a "right" to minority status does "not hold water" to some because of "nature's nature". These argue that ethnic identity cannot be used equatably with homosexuality because one's ethinicity is not a choice. I agree that choice is an ultimate distinction and ultimate value when it regards what is appropriate or inappropriate.

Biblicists wouldn't even "go there", as the text bans such behavior, and one shouldn't be allowed "choice" about such matters. There are no compromises on accepting, condoning, or considering such behavior. But, others are not so opinionated. Others who want to hold to a "middle way", of choice, choose to uphold self-discipline, or denial of certain expressions of sexual desire. This argument holds validity because we want to uphold self-discipline,  and fidelity. But is denial of sexual expression appropriate to the homosexual alone, or are there other means to judge appropriate or inappropriate behavior? Is there only "one position" that is  allowable?  How does one judge sexual expression?  Does nature alone guide our judgments? Then, why don't we hold to nature is all of our judgments and not inspired texts? Is there diversity in nature? Are humans only sophisticated animals, who can choose, and don't behave only by instinct? I think so.

Choice is as much about commitment and fidelity to one's chosen partner, as it is about "equal rights" and society's protection. The choice to commit one's life to faithfulness in a given area is an important value to uphold, as it is foundational to integrity, and trust. It is social contract. The right to sexual expression with my chosen partner, means that I forgo others. Social order is maintained, and yet, we have been "liberal" in our understanding of the homosexual. Isn't this really what should control our arguments, what is best for society and why? And shouldn't it be based on rationale, not appeals to irrational beliefs about "God"?

Opponents argue that homosexuals have a promiscous lifestyle which would undermine societial stability for raising children, and limiting sexually transmitted diseases. Although some homosexuals are promiscuous and some spread disease, so do heterosexuals. The issue is not homosexuality, but choices about lifestyle and the values of family and fidelity.

Some argue that homosexual homes are not conducive for child-rearing as it is an inappropriate role model. But, the question should be what represents an appropriate role model? Is one's ability to procreate the only consideration when one argues against homosexuality? What about the heterosexual that cannot have children? Or those that have gotten beyond child-bearing years? Do these have any "right" to sexual expression with their partner? Or is sex only about procreation?

Shouldn't we uphold fidelity to one's partner, as an ultimate value in America, whether hetereosexual or homosexual because this is what benefits society and the children raised in families?

Self-control, character, choice, and commitment are what should be considerations when we evaluate "rights", society and human flourishing.

Irrational Faith and a Reasoned Frame

Some believe in irrational faith. These believe that our actions 'prove" the validity of our faith, not by reason, itself,, but within the framework of an archetype. Reason is not "rational", or understood, except within a certain "paradigm". Such thinking is not 'universal' but culture specific.

Culture is an environment that adheres to certain standards, beliefs, norms, and values. Religious cultures are framed by religious authorities, inspired texts, doctrines, or 'accepted' moral models. These do not allow liberty because of their specific framing/paradigm. Reason in this sense is not 'free' to understand anything apart from the "affirmed culture" or accepted norm. Science, as well as religion frames understanding by accepted "rules" of understanding nature, or society. The difference, is that science is open to new information, at least in theory. Religion is not as open.

America believes that religious freedom is about individual conscience. The individual is free to choose where they will or will not associate. American values are determined  by the "rule of law" defined in our Constitution. And our Constitution respects and protects individual liberty from government intrusion, but does it protect from "irrational faith' claims? This is what our nation faces in  "irrational faith"s demand for equal protections under our Constitutional government. Equality under law means that irregardless of one's faith or lack thereof, there must be protections under law. Therefore, our nation is just.

Irrational faith is about speicified behavior, and beliefs that motivate such behavior. It cannot be reasoned with because of its commitment to the paradigm of choice. Defensiveness is the stance to "outside" attempts to re-frame one's life. Knowledge itself can be threatening because it brings cognitive challenges to one's chosen paradigm. Defensiveness to change protects "identity" itself.

"Life" is lived within these cultural frames, without realizing or reflecting on why these frames have any power to continue over one's life. Reasoned framing of life conflicts with foundational understandings about life and is too threatening to one's identity to "let go", or escape. Science, too attempts to understand 'new information' based upon past "frames" (accepted theories). But, whenever the paradigm shifts in scienctific understanding, there is also resistance. Science attempts to evaluate nature upon foundational physical/mathmatical undestandings.

I believe our brains  encapsulate our memories. And memories are about emotions, as much as experience itself. The "feeling" of belonging to family, tribe or nation is too "human" to dismiss lightly. Our self-understanding is dependent on such connections and networking. A re-framing of one's identity is what happens whenever one discovers that their frame has lost "meaning" or significance for/to "self", as "self" is defined by these  frames of reference. A re-defining of scientific understanding also challenges science's "identity", as science is a "culture", too.

Irrational believers don't stop to consider these aspects of "framing one's reality", because they are too "committed to their cause", thinking that the radical nature of their commitment confirms the "truth" of their irrational claims. And this kind of thinking thinks that everyone should believe and commit as they do, otherwise, there is "no faith".

Irrational faith is a limited way of thinking and being in the world. And it hinders "peace", because it limits diversity.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leaders of a Wrong Order

No budget, at least that is accountable to public scrunity.

"Good ole boy" systems that cover for one another. Whistle blowers are shunned, and black-balled. One must tow the "party line".

Ethics are self-referential, they are not for the "common man". Leaders are above the law, because they make, and interpret the law.

Control of public information becomes necessary because the public can't be trusted to know what in their best interest. All the while, leaders are acting as self-interested parties.

Public office is not viewed as a public trust, but as public "control". Social control is affirmed where "self-governance" was the founding frame.

Public welfare is invested in public officials, because the public doesn't care anymore.

Public monies can be manipulated to promote personal promotion, through earmarks.

No longer can the public trust representative government when their representatives are self-invested in government's interests.

Self, as Conscious Manager

Our Founders "founded" a government based on "self-governance". Self-governance was one's ability to be one's "own manager". And this is what has made for the greatness of the American experiment/experience!

The individual is allowed the liberty to pursue his own goals and opportunities to enlarge himself with education, freedom of information, free access to worship, as one chooses, or does not choose. This is a form or governing that is limited, because it does not intrude or interfere with the human right to liberty of conscience. Laws were to protect the individual which formed society, as well as society being protected by the laws that framed its realities.

Today, both liberals and conservatives like to use the law to demand obedience to their "form of understanding" society. The conservative likes to frame society based on thier understanding of "Creation", "God" and Scripture, while the liberal also wants to frame society on that basis, but has a different way of understanding those terms. What both seem to not balance is the individual's right in the midst of society. The majority (society) does not have a right against the minority (the individual) otherwise, there would be not "protections under law". This is where the libertarian view affirms individuality, as it concerns liberty.

The libertarian would affirm the right of the individual in regards to religion, their life, and the market. Social interests, "the common good", society's protections, etc. do not limit government or the majority in its demands upon the individual and conscience. Liberty is an important value for America in this regard. Otherwise, we do use the 'force of the law" to impose our understanding of "what is best" without understanding that our fellow citizen also has a right to his understanding. We do not want coercion, either in the name of the "God of our understanding" or the "god of the nature". Both are hard task-masters.

Self, as Conscious Being

Individuation is the "goal" of parenting and the greatest joy is when the child comes to a sense of themselves and where they want to commit their life. This is an important step in realizing Personhood.

Those that compel or co-erce their children into certain forms of expectation do a disservice to the individual child and their gifts to society. I have been guilty of this, thinking that there was only one purpose or goal of good parenting and that was to get my children "saved" or to "behave properly". These were short-sighted goals and hindered their individality and my personl relationship to them.

Fear and a desire to "fit" into religious communities hindered my ability to engage my children and enjoy their diverse interests. Religion can hinder personal growth and goals, because it can limit perspective. The problem for most of the religious is framing their reality by tightly bound identifiers. Reality is really diverse ways of understanding " all that is". But, science can also be guilty of such manipulation. When science is convinced of its theory, science can become just as "biased" in hindering personal growth and diversity.

"Self" is a conscious being where one's reality is conncected to framing reality that parallels one's sense of self-understanding. And self-understanding has to do with one's culture, one's upbringing, one's personal interests, one's past learning experiences, and one's present  understanding of reality.

In America, "we are a people" because we believe in individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some in America have stagnated our country's unity by polarizing over individuating arenas, faith and reason.

Scientists have faith IN reason, because reason is one's ability to formulate and organize information. This makes humans distinct from other animals. All humans organize and formulate their realities, academic disciplines do so formally. Religion, on the other hand, has faith in faith. Faith is about cultural framing of reality, which includes outward forms of living in the world, in all of its diversity. American embraces both science and faith as valid ways of living in the world. But, today, America is divided by what used to bring about its unity.

Our Founders understood that humans need room to differ as to faith, but the nation needed a way to unify its diversity, as well. Our Constitution is what has brought about America's self-understanding, as each American is equal under law, with a right to petition government and to be innocent until proven guilty and a right to trial by jury. These are rights that protect and validify our nation's "protections' and value of "individuation". We must not undermine our liberties by undermining our laws, which protect Americans and their "way of life".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Because the Masses Must Be Manipulated....

The "masses must be led", as there are many ways to frame our understandings and commitments in the world. Those that do not know this, but 'bite' on one way of thinking, or are not critical about their own "bias", are prone to be manipulated. Many have opposed such manipulation by leadership or by informing those that are so naive'. Sometimes advantages are gained because of conventional wisdom and there is no ulterior motive as to power, but other times, there is a desire to have power over the masses, so power can be expanded.

Martin Luther stood against the Catholic Church because the Church was using the teaching and belief of indulgences to gain power over those that didn't have any other recourse, as they couldn't even "worship" with understanding, because they were so dependent on the Magisterium. Church teaching was a way for the Church to maintain social order, but in Luther's eyes scripture was useful for educational purposes. The Church believed that they had a justified right over the masses because "God", had ultimate right over the masses. But, "God" ended up being really, the Magisterium.

The Roman Church also resisted change when it came to scientific discoveries that undermined Aritotle's view of "First Cause" as "God". The view that the Church was the center of the universe (the right interpretor/authority), just as Man/Earth was the center of "God's purposes" was to continue to bias the masses. Science and religion became competitors for man's bias.

Hitler, Stalin, and other dictators led the "masses" down their primrose path because they held the reigns of power over information in the press. Propaganda was useful to propetiate the "right message" so that the Germans would think their purposes were above and higher than other purposes. Propaganda was accepted because there was no other way of thinking or judging about "the outsider". Information/education was only allowed within a certain 'context".And these believe that the State, or the Dictator is to determine man's bias.

Marxist ideology believes that the purposes of economic equality can only be furthered with religion's assent. Religion is the opiate of the people, and it is needed after the revolution that creates and benefits the leaders's vision of equality or morality, at the expense of everyone else. Such is the case with class warfare, as it always ends in bloodshed. Vacumns are filled by dictators that create safety out of the chaos/revolution. These people want to use conventional wisdom to their advantage by "useful language" games. Theirs is an "Economic" bias.

Abraham Lincoln created  an environment where the States warred for their right of economic benefit. He filled the vacumn by enlarging the centralized State at the expense of the state's right to succeed. Centralization is a bias toward "Statism".

Individual heroes have always stood up, resisted, or lived without such manipulations. But, it takes courage to face one's own bias, and strength to continue to resist opposing forces that want to manipulate bias toward a "mass understanding" or use "mass understanding" to manipulate and control "outcomes".

Our Founding Fathers knew that divided and separated power was needed to protect against such centralized thinking and being in the world, as power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton). It is collective power that is not challenged that corrupts. Such have been the Nelson Mandelas, the Albert Einsteins, the Martin Luthers, the Martin Luther King, Jr.s,  the Anne Franks,  the Ayn Rands, the Alexander Solzhenitsyns these have discovered, resisted, stood up for, and made a difference against "collective thinking".

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Is the Use of "Christian"?

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.

Charles de Montesquieu

This is the "means for Christian religion", as far as Montesquieu is concerned. The Christian religion upholds Jesus of Nazereth as a "moral example" and his was an example of compasssion for those that didn't "fit". America is great because it is a land of opportunity where all men have inalienable rights to pursue their goals.

Montesquieu was not a "Christian", but was a political philosopher that had a great impact on America's Founding.

"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen."

~John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, December 25, 1813.

Christian education should not be about Scripture as an inerrant, infallible "Word of God", but as a philosophy of human nature. The law is the equalizer among men, as the law protects human nature from itself. Human nature is prone to err, as it is limited in scope, self-interested, and opinionated by one's "culture". Scientists understand "human nature" as "survival of the fittest".

Virtue is a defense for civility. Without virtue, civilization would be lost on war, revenge, and spitefulness. Self interest is not bad, it just is. This is why we need to acknowledge and identify what our self interest is about and negotiate our differences. This is where social contract can protect peace and uphold justice.

Without an understanding of human nature, which scientists still are investigating, the world cannot live in peace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Thought on Government

I believe I remember Evans saying that in a morally relativistic world, where anything is allowable, then there can be no moral judgments. And if there are no moral judgments, then Nazism is as good, as a liberal democracy, or a Representative Republic. This is the basis of the "rule of law". It protects us from depotism.

That is not to say that those that live in free societies have vastly different understandings of and to their commitments. That is what liberty means.

Re-reading "The Theme is Freedom", by M. Stanton Evans

Yesterday, I decided to re-read, "The Theme is Freedom", by M. Stanton Evans. I had read it several years ago and read seversal chapters a few month ago. It is about religion, history, politics, and the American "tradition". I absolutely love what I have read. It resonates with me. His thesis is that liberty is America's primary value and the liberal has undermined liberty by "social programs" and "social engineering".

He argues and makes plan the outcomes of such programs and engineering. And it is pertinent to the problems we have today. He also argues for the value of religion in America's "liberal" climate. I recommend that you get a copy and find out for yourself what "true conservatism" is about and why we must change the way America is headed.

I will write more after I finish the book!